The road to becoming a GB Age Group Athlete.

A 6 year journey.

It was back in 2017 and one of my best buddies was doing an insane challenge …… 7 Iron Distance Triathlons in 7 days. Matt turnbull the first person on English soil to complete the 7in7 challenge. I was his ‘wingman’ on the bike during this epic event and it inspired a very ordinary and slightly overweight 45 year old (me) to start to thinking big again. So how did I get from then to now in 6 years and have the opportunity to don the GB colours at the European Duathlon Championships?

My first realisation during this event was that a previously fit and healthy me had lost the plot. At age 45, those 112 mile daily bike rides were a challenge in themselves and I knew work and family priorties of the previous 5 years had taken their toll on my fitness. The second realisation was that if Matt could do 7 in 7, surely with a year of training, I could do 1 in 1?! The only problem was I couldn’t swim a length and the Iron Distance Triathlon requires you to swim 2.4 miles in open water.

2017 – 2018 was a year of learning to swim, endurance training and weight loss kicked off by a 9 day cleanse. After a gruelling day and a successful completion of my first full distance triathlon I knew I had caught the triathlon bug. It felt fantastic! Over the next 2 years I refined my skills and experimented with different triathlon distances. I was definitely suited to the longer distance. Shorter events require higher intensities and my hips were telling me to be careful. Slowly I began to swim more like a swimmer! My running was always ok and with some refinements in the Boardman Tunnel, I found I was pretty nifty on the bike. I played around with my diet, went plant based and streamlined my sports supplementation down to a handful of products that made all the difference to both performance and recovery.

Then (you guessed it) Covid-19 happened. Triathletes are pretty independent people on the whole. Running and cycling could continue pretty much unaltered. Swimming pools however were obviously closed and even open water swimming didn’t escape many of the lockdown restrictions. So like many swimmers around the world, I tethered old inner tubes to door handles and ‘swam’ lying facedown on my massage table. Opportunities to compete were few and far between but in 2020, I came within 115% of the winning age group time of a major half distance triathlon and in 2021 I further improved to come within108%. Both times allowed me to apply for a GB Age Group place.

With swimming being my weakest discipline, it was always going to be tough to get selected for the GB Age Group team in triathlon. My coach encouraged me to apply for the Duathlon Team. Still middle distance, but no swimming; instead run / bike / run. I sent off my results and application and tried to forget about it. Then on the 9th December 2021, the email I’d been hoping for dropped from British Triathlon with the Subject Title: Exciting News!

Covid restrictions allowing, I’ll be off to Germany in April. Lots of training to do and ……. some exciting news for anyone thinking of doing their first triathlon in 2022. More on this in the months to come. Stay fit. Stay well. Covid is still around so look after your health. Work towards a healthy body weight and consider increasing your Vitamin D and Zinc to support a healthy immune system. Mike 🙂

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